About how Napster spawned the expectation of most consumers that they can get great stuff for free online, and how newspapers and any company trying to make any profit at all have been trying to combat it ever since.
About how "if you're not paying for the product [Google, Facebook], then you are the product".
About how journalism is struggling to stay afloat, relevant and high-quality in a deluge of content-farming clickbait sites paying zero dollars for content.
I am part of the problem. I love my favourite podcasts but have so far not donated to a single one. (I tell myself I will). I use Wikipedia all the time, and I would like to keep it free of ads, but I have not contributed to their $3 fundraiser (I tell myself I will).
I have one online newspaper subscription, to Fairfax, which gives me full access to The Age and the Australian Financial Review for a very reasonable amount (which I suspend when funds are tight). I used to also have The Australian, but I let that go a couple of years ago when it became just too ridiculously right-biased even for my fairly elastic tastes.
I used to have an online subscription to Vanity Fair (jeez, a lifetime ago - who has time to read those articles now?). And I gave myself a three-month print-and-online subscription to New Scientist for my last birthday, which I plan to cancel - not because it's not excellent, but because it's expensive. I know buying a print magazine almost every week is more expensive, but an odd thing happens when you take up a subscription: you stop reading the bloody thing. Why it is I eagerly bought and read every issue at the newsagents for premium dollars for years, and now have 10 issues unopened from their plastic wrappings and the app barely accessed on my phone I just don't understand, but there it is.
I read lots of books on Kindle, and I buy a few songs from iTunes. (I know, Spotify, Pandora etc - I'll get there).
But apart from those things, I don't pay for anything I consume online. (I don't torrent movies, or try to get around paywalls - I just stick to the free stuff).
I read newspapers, Slate, Cracked, Buzzfeed, Salon, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, Jezebel, Freakonomics, i09, Forbes, New Scientist, Meanjin, Daily Science Fiction... and anything else interesting I get from Twitter or elsewhere. All excellent content, all "free" for now.
I know it's going to get worse. Pop-up ads are getting more intrusive, especially on mobile devices - many are virtually malware. It has got to the point where you just can't finish reading a '15 celebrities who...' list without giving up in disgust. Honestly!
And yet I am part of the problem.
To be honest I'm not sure Napster is to blame, or that it even started with the internet. In my youth I loved PBS Public Radio and I was happy to hear every second song interspersed with earnest pleas for donations, and I never donated anything (I always told myself I would).
You see I always think: what if I donate and this thing doesn't survive - I've lost my money.
And even less nobly, I think: enough other people will donate, it will be OK.
And sure enough, next week's podcast contains a heartfelt 'thank you so much for contributing, you guys are great and we are so thankful!' and I can relax a little and know that my favourite podcasts will continue.
I know - I'm not proud of it.
Today I clicked a link from Twitter to this article (see pic below). You will note an extremely reasonable - nay, awesome - subscription deal offered by the Boston Globe. You get 5 free articles, or you can subscribe for 99c - for all access, forever! (or possibly for just one year, but either way, awesome).
And I thought: Let's just see how the five articles go first.
Do you pay for stuff online, donate to sites and podcasts, or freeload? Is it freeloading, when the stuff is offered ostensibly free?